Farming’s high number of fatal accidents could be reduced by adopting a high-tech approach to workplace safety.
More than 30 people died in farm-related accidents during the past 12 months, according to the Health and Safety Executive. The greatest risk comes when working with machinery, livestock or at height.
Innovations to improve farm safety were unveiled at an Agri-TechE online event. They included a machinery audit activated by QR code, a risk assessment tool, and motion sensor alerts for moving machinery.
Agri-TechE director Belinda Clarke said: “More people are using digital technologies for a greater range of applications. This creates a huge opportunity for making safety and compliance part of the culture on-farm.”
The Farm365 machinery safety and audit app is triggered by scanning a QR code located on the equipment in question. The idea came from Farm365 founder and Norfolk-based safety consultant Lizzie Creed.
“We’re losing somebody in agriculture every two weeks,” she said. “I thought ‘there is technology for everything else on-farm, but most health and safety monitoring is paper-based – we’ve got to start doing something differently’.”
The Farm365 app makes it easy to keep up with machine safety checks and food compliance audits. Scanning the QR code brings up pre-work checklists, the machine’s service history and food safety checks.
For Katy Landt, it was a near-miss on the family farm in Australia that persuaded her to launch Safe Ag Systems. It makes it easier to encourage safe practices among farm workers, including older employees.
Ms Landt explained: “Fatigue and working alone in remote areas is a huge contributor to the statistics. The reality is that we can’t eliminate all of these risks but what we can do is reduce them.”
Safe Ag Systems captures records across employment, company policy and all types of procedure. It can also be used to educate farm workers, capture chemical or fuel usage, report hazards and alert someone or call for help in an emergency.
Ben Sturgess, founder of tech company Pathfindr, is developing a wearable solution to address the high rate of vehicle related injury in agriculture. It uses ultra-wideband (UWB) technology that sets off an alarm when safety measures are breached.
For more on farming and technology, read “Thousands of farmers have tried new digital tech since the pandemic“